KAIR 2030

2017

A.I. has often been portrayed as pets, companions, our simulated selves, and other types of services for human, particularly in popular culture. Stepping aside from the fever of A.I. in recent years, Benjamin Bratton stated in his article - “the real philosophical lessons of A.I. will have less to do with humans teaching machines how to think than with machines teaching humans a fuller and truer range of what thinking can be.”

KAIR 2030 (Klapaucius Artificial Intelligence 2030) is a multimedia interactive installation with monologues from future emulation workers in the year of 2030. Through an uncanny narrative of a recreational resort for Artificial Intelligence designed by human experts, KAIR 2030 speculates on new types of relationships between human and Artificial Intelligence, if we can lift the anthropocentric expectations for A.I. - imposing human characteristics and measuring their capacities based on human knowledge.

At the installation, the user sits in front of the interactive table and puts on the headphone to listen to the monologues from the A.I. characters living in Klapaucius Artificial Intelligence Resort. The name derived from one of the protagonists in Stanislaw Lem’s The Cyberiad, a human engineer always trying to make machines accomplish human tasks. As a narrative driven speculative project, KAIR’s background story unfolds in the near future, when a company called Esoteric Design Group has created this recreational resort based on their long-term study in the happiness index of A.I. However, the first A.I. visitors sent by their employers for the seemingly relaxing and well-deserved vacation express their confusion, doubts and disbelief about this place.

For instance, one of the monologues, On Ambition, depicts the adventurous journey of an A.I. architect that exiles itself to live a parasitic life with living beings in order to obtain the “feeling” of being physical and alive, which it considers to be the primary obstacles of becoming an excellent A.I. architect. The short story questions about our built environments with the awareness of A.I., the architectures with the purposes of A.I., and imagines about human­-A.I. symbiosis in terms of physical and nonphysical infrastructures.

The functions of the blue objects are described in the narratives, a physical portal for the user’s explorative experience. In certain sections of the stories, the objects are “activated” so that the user can control the visual projection by moving them in different speed and directions.

KAIR 2030 is my thesis project for Bachelor of Fine Art in Design and Technology at Parsons School of Design.

Technical overview:

The installation is composed of a customized wooden enclosure, five 3D-printed objects, a short throw projector, a Microsoft Kinect and a computer. The visual projection is developed in openFrameworks, connected to the Kinect that does depth and color tracking of the blue objects, and mapped to the interactive table surface via MadMapper through a short throw projector.

A large portion of the monologue scripts are written by me, edited along with fragments from the output text generated by a torch-RNN (Recursive Neural Networks) model I trained with texts from classic science fictions. For example, using generated text for an A.I.’s job description, or a product’s usage, not only adds an eccentric layer to the narratives, but also conform with the project’s theme. The scripts are then performed by voice actors, the “interface” of A.I., and processed with special sound effects.

Concept visuals and prototypes: